British Columbia

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses challenge of conflict of interest rulings clearing premier

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck said court won't hear a challenge against two rulings that cleared Premier Christy Clark of conflict of interest allegations.

Justice Affleck said last year's decisions are 'unreviewable'

Premier Christy Clark was cleared of two conflict of interest complaints related to exclusive fundraising events in May and August of 2016. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

The B.C. Supreme Court won't hear a challenge against two rulings that cleared Premier Christy Clark of conflict of interest allegations, a judge announced Wednesday.

Democracy Watch, an Ottawa-based citizen advocacy group, had petitioned the court to set aside last year's decisions from the provincial conflict commissioner.

In May, Paul Fraser dismissed complaints that Clark's attendance at exclusive B.C. Liberal Party fundraisers, as well as her annual $50,000 stipend, were unethical.

A few months later, he ruled against similar allegations and said he considered the matter "closed."

Fraser said the premier hadn't violated the Members' Conflict of Interest Act because she hadn't received a personal benefit.

Earlier this month, Democracy Watch petitioned to have both rulings set aside.

The organization also asked that the court find Fraser shouldn't have been involved in the decisions to begin with on account of bias, as his son works for the provincial government.

On Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck ruled that no court challenges would be allowed on Fraser's decisions because they are protected by legislative privilege and are consequently "unreviewable."

In a statement, Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher said the organization "wasn't prepared to let the issue go."

Lawyer Jason Gratl said the group is considering an appeal.

Last week, Clark announced that she is no longer receiving the annual stipend from her party.

She said the payment, which came on top of her annual $195,000 salary, had become "a distraction."

With files from the Canadian Press